Motorcyclist Keeps Racing Thanks to Mount Sinai Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Lee Farmer is competing in his first big, professional motorcycling race at the Daytona 200 in Florida. This wouldn’t be possible if he had not had heart surgery with Dr. Paul Stelzer.

Lee Farmer, 41, is competing in his first big, professional motorcycling race on March 13-15, 2014 at the Daytona 200 in Florida.

"This all wouldn't be possible if I hadn't had heart surgery with Dr. Paul Stelzer," says Lee, who credits his cardiothoracic surgeon at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City for keeping him active.

"I am now a regular guy after surgery, and just like all the other motorcycle racers on the Daytona 200 track competing," says Lee.

Lee had no symptoms but was eventually diagnosed with severe aortic regurgitation. The condition caused his diseased aorta and heart to become enlarged.

Once diagnosed, he turned to the Internet to find the best heart surgeon possible for his condition. "All my research pointed to Dr. Stelzer at Mount Sinai," says Lee, who says when he emailed Dr. Stelzer he responded within minutes to arrange an appointment.

In 2008, Dr. Stelzer performed a special Ross Procedure on Lee at The Mount Sinai Hospital. During the open heart surgery procedure, which is Dr. Stelzer's specialty, Lee's diseased aortic valve was removed and replaced with his own pulmonary valve. Then Lee received a human donor pulmonary valve to complete the operation.

After recovering from the Ross Procedure, Lee was free to return to his passion of racing, mainly because the Ross Procedure allowed him to avoid having a mechanical heart valve implanted which would require him to remain on blood thinning medication for the rest of his life and give up the racing sport he loves.

"I am thankful for Mount Sinai and Dr. Stelzer for keeping me in the running for the big 200 mile race in Daytona," says Lee.

Over the last three decades of his career, Dr. Stelzer has performed more than 540 Ross Procedures for young patients suffering from aortic regurgitation or aortic stenosis, most of whom had been born with bicuspid aortic valves.